Altar frontal from Sant Pere in Ripoll

UnknownMid-12th century

Museu Episcopal de Vic

Museu Episcopal de Vic
Vic, Spain

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The decoration on metal sheet, the imitation of precious stones and the dustcover are from mid-13th-century

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  • Title: Altar frontal from Sant Pere in Ripoll
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Mid-12th century
  • Location Created: Catalonia, Spain
  • Physical Dimensions: w186 x h101 x d23 cm (Complete)
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: © Museu Episcopal de Vic, photographer: Joan M. Díaz
  • External Link: Museu Episcopal de Vic
  • Medium: Sculptural relief in willow wood on Scots pine wood panel
  • Style Source: Museu Episcopal de Vic
  • Style: Romanesque
  • Provenance Source: Museu Episcopal de Vic
  • Provenance: From the church of Sant Pere in Ripoll (Ripollès)
  • Place Part Of: Spain
  • Medium Source: Museu Episcopal de Vic
  • Description Source: Museu Episcopal de Vic
  • Description Extent: Complete
  • Description: Although this altar frontal was recovered in 1889 from the parish church of Sant Pere in Ripoll, it was probably part of the liturgical furniture in the monastery of Ripoll, which had been sacked in 1835. It is one of the Catalan Romanesque altar frontals that best represents the typology of those that were made in imitation of the frontals in silverwork and precious stones, for the cathedrals and great monasteries. In the centre there is the figure of Christ Pantocrator inside the vesica piscis sitting with the book open showing the letters alpha and omega, symbols of the beginning and the end of the world. It was originally surrounded by the symbols of the four evangelists, now lost. In the side compartments there were the sculptures of the twelve apostles, of whom only four are now conserved: Saint Andrew, holding the book with the inscription “S. Andreas”, Saint Peter, with the keys and the inscription “S.Petrus”, Saint Mathias, with the book and the inscription “S.Mathias”, and Saint Judas, also holding the book with the inscription “S.Iudas”. It is almost certainly a work contemporaneous with the monastery doorway, although from a stylistic point of view this is a different sculptor also endowed with great technical and compositional skill. The complexity with which he treats the folds in the Pantocrator's cloak, and the delicate and expressive movement of the figure of the apostle Mathias, so characteristic of the best European Romanesque sculpture of the time, make it clear that this is one of the great Catalan sculptors of the day.